Chris Fairley

“I uncovered a hidden passion for education within me, which altered my course.”

Hometown: Gulfport, Mississippi
Military Service: U.S. Coast Guard - Deployable Operations Group, 2000-2010

Major: BA - Political Science (with teaching certificate)
Expected Graduation: 2012

Military Honors:

  • Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • Global War on Terror Service Medal (DOD)
  • Global War on Terror Expeditionary
  • Coast Guard Achievement Medal (x3)
  • Coast Guard Unit Commendation Award
  • Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Award (DOD JTF/GTMO)
  • Coast Guard Rifle Marksman Ribbon
  • Coast Guard Pistol Sharpshooter Ribbon
  • Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Humanitarian Service Medal (x2)
  • Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal (x2)
  • Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation

My Military Experience

My experience with the Coast Guard included assignments in New Orleans and Boston. I started in New Orleans with the Search and Rescue Station and then became a Maritime Enforcement Specialist First Class with the Maritime Safety and Security Team in New Orleans and then in Boston. In this position, I conducted safety and security inspections on both compliant and noncompliant ships and port facilities to determine proper cargo, ship documentation and personnel, ensuring a safe entry into U.S. ports. I also trained fellow team members in Close Quarters Combat (CQC) tactics, techniques, and procedures and provided instruction in helicopter fast-roping and hook-and-climb tactics.

Deciding on Political Science

Following my active duty service, I began the hiring process with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. My intentions were to work towards a degree and, if orders for the federal law enforcement academy came, I would withdraw from school and finish at a later time. However, all that changed after my first semester at UT Dallas. I uncovered a hidden passion for education within me, which altered my course; therefore, I decided to stay in school and I enrolled in the teaching program.

Before enrollment, I went back and forth between a degree in criminology and political science. I felt that criminal justice would be better given my background. However, political science kept whispering in my ear. Even though I was totally off the radar politically, a political theory class really gained my attention in the subject matter. Ever since, I've been fascinated with political history/philosophy.

My EPPS Success

The atmosphere and enthusiasm in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences is great. I've particularly been impressed with the professors and their overall concern for students' success.

I've found that creating a regular routine for myself - which starts with getting to campus early every morning - has been very beneficial. Because of this routine, I have plenty of time to study but also I've met many faculty and staff who have contributed to my success.

Plans for the Future

I expect to graduate in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in political science and a teaching certification in social sciences for grades 8-12. Through the Fast Track program, I expect to pursue my master's degree in political science and then a PhD, as my end goal is to teach at the university level.

Advice to Prospective EPPS Student Veterans

For other veterans considering EPPS, I would suggest considering the array of opportunities that is conducive to your military background. Additionally, take advantage of the new Veteran Outreach program, which not only serves as a resource guide, but also as a support element.

Other Interests

In my free time, I like to hike, camp, kayak, mountain bike and participate in adventure racing. However, when I'm not outdoors, I enjoy reading history. I am fascinated with the early American founding and Revolution.